Disney Didn’t Know What It Had With The Owl House

The Owl House is bigger than ever, and a large part of that popularity is due to the unfair hand it was dealt. Thanks To Them has accrued millions of views on YouTube, while the fandom remains constantly engaged with new theories, fan art, and discussions as we once again settle into the cold, dark months of another hiatus. Two more specials are set to air until the show draws to its premature conclusion, with Disney deciding to cancel it long before there was a chance for it to prove itself either on streaming or cable.

It was snuffed out before the first season had even finished airing, all because an executive didn’t fancy giving the show a chance in spite of its success. I’m speculating on a lot of this obviously; I don’t work for the company nor do I want to put friends on the show in hot water by spreading needless rumours, but so many involved are not only justifiably heartbroken, but confused as to what exactly constitutes success anymore when one of the most celebrated cartoons in recent memory can be thrown under the bus so unceremoniously.

The Owl House had potential to be the next Adventure Time or Gravity Falls, growing a fandom of passionate followers who would do anything for it. This was made clear at New York Comic Con where we saw the show’s first and last panel taking place in a relatively small room. Hundreds were turned away at the door, encouraged to instead watch online because there was simply no way of accommodating them. Cosplayers who toiled away on costumes and fans who likely came with questions prepared to ask their favourite characters didn’t have that chance, and might never again. Worse still, the panel opened with a trailer for another show that ate into the small amount of time Dana Terrace had to play with. It just stinks of corporate mismanagement and a disrespect for the medium, an awfully ironic thing to consider now Disney is likely kicking itself for nipping Luz Noceda in the bud so hastily.

Everyone I know who works on the show is wonderful, and to have them recognise my work and celebrate it so fervently is surreal, but it also means I want them to succeed, or to keep moving forward and creating more stories in this universe. But right now, the chance of that happening is awfully slim. Bridges have been burned in spite of its success, so the best we can hope for is an additional comic or spin-off willing to dip back into a pool that has been contaminated by dire circumstances. Given its size, it's odd how insular Disney can be when it comes to what it deems worthy of promotion or success.

Marvel and Star Wars will always act as its cash cows, while there’s a handful of exceptions across its portfolio deserving of merchandise beyond the original product. Disney Television Animation has always been screwed over though, with fans often being made to produce fanzines, charms, plushies, and who knows what else because there is no other way to get them made. I’d say these avenues are more worthy of support anyway, given the money goes back to small, queer creators instead of the pockets of a corporation with more money than sense. Tokyopop is set to release Marcy’s Journal later this year from Matt Braly and Adam Colás, but even that was years in the making and feels like a miracle it’s even being released. These shows deserve more support, and fans are more than willing to give it if Disney would come out of its weirdly limited echochamber. I know these different parts of the company are handled by different departments, but a bit of consistency would lead us to having much more faith.

Yet here we are. In less than a year The Owl House will be closing its doors for good, and at least right now, Disney hasn’t decided to change course or throw Dana Terrace a bone when it comes to future projects. Support for the show has certainly grown though, whether it be through sharing clips on social media channels or hosting galleries in Los Angeles dedicated to the story, characters, and work from the wider crew. But so much of that life still comes from the fans, or cast and creators hosting unofficial streams that operate outside the Disney machine. Cissy Jones and Sarah-Nicole Robles created PostHoot, a fortnightly chat show that invites fellow cast members, animators, production staff, and so many others to talk about The Owl House and how it changed their lives. I was even on it last month, and can’t resist a shameless plug if you fancy taking a look.

The Owl House’s future is bright, even if its ambition has to continue evolving in a less than official capacity once the final two specials air. I’ll be going along for the ride, but part of me still wishes things were different and Disney gave it the respect it deserves.

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